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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 4:46 pm

Driver charged in NH crash; 2 Mass. bikers killed

The Associated Press

A 19-year-old woman was driving too fast and without a license when she plowed into a group of cyclists on an annual ride in Hampton, N.H., killing two and injuring two others, police said Tuesday.

Darriean Hess was charged with two counts of negligent homicide and two counts of assault in connection with the Saturday morning crash in the beachfront community.

Hess, of Seabrook, was driving too fast for the conditions - specifically the number of cyclists on the road - when she crossed over the center line and struck a group of riders on a bridge during the 40th annual Granite State Wheelmen Tri-State Seacoast Century ride, said Rockingham County District Attorney Jim Reams.

Hess had been stopped on the same road eight hours before the crash and ticketed for driving without a license. Hampton Police Chief James Sullivan said the officer in that stop followed policy when he issued her an appearance ticket then allowed a friend to pick her up and drive the car away.

"It's unfortunate that the incident happened the next day but the officer had no way of knowing that," Sullivan said.

Reams would not say if Hess' license had been suspended, only that she did not currently have a New Hampshire driver's license.

Police believe the car belonged to a friend of Hess'. Reams said there isn't any evidence yet to suggest charges could be leveled against the friend.

The crash killed two Massachusetts women, Pamela Wells, of South Hamilton, and Elise Bouchard, of Danvers. Two other riders were injured.

"Every one of these kinds of events are a tragedy," Reams said.

All four charges are felonies that bring a maximum of up to 7 years in prison upon conviction. Bail was to be set Tuesday night and Hess is expected to be arraigned Wednesday morning, Reams said.

He did not immediately know if she had a lawyer.